Yesterday, as I thought and prayed over the recent riots and attacks on what really should be sacred in this country- freedom to exist freely as you are - I reflected much on my own heart and what my role is in all of this. Whether I have perpetuated any of it or not, as turning a blind eye is just as bad as participating in things most of the time. I prayed in light of my community and how we love. Are we including the least of these? Are we honoring all humans as a beloved creation of our Fathers hand? Do I reach out when I don’t understand or stand behind my closed blinds with fist clenched, ready to take on what might enter my door? Over the last months I have thought much about understanding in light of loving, of caring for those around us. I have wondered how often my own need to understand gets in the way of me fulfilling the well known calling that I have; to be a disciple that makes disciples, and to love my neighbor as myself. And what I have challenged myself with is to not trust my feeling of the need to understand. In fact, in Proverbs we are told “not to trust in our own understanding but to trust in the Lord our God”….I am told to trust in the Lord MY God rather. I believe I can bring this into my experience on this earth and through the calling that I have been so graciously given, to be a disciple who makes disciples and to love my neighbor as myself, apart from my understanding. This is not only a humbling thought but should be a commanding thought that propels us into deeper relation. We are in fact freed up to trust in the Lord simply because our identity rests in all He has sacrificed, not all that we will be welcomed to. My righteousness will not be judged by the company I keep rather the company I don’t keep. You tracking, family? We are called to love. (period) (exclamation point) .!
And so in my reflection of the last days, I think of ‘the least of these’ in this situation. I think about those who were beaten in the streets of this modern, forward thinking country all because they do not share the same color skin. Yet, did He not create us purposely, with the knowledge of who we would be and what we would look like? I have to trust that He did, not only because the word tells me so but because my body is broken and I need to believe that He loves it as it is. We can stand in borrowed pulpits and preach words that were never meant to be spoken, talking of the shoulds and should nots. Heck, we can even speak the words that at times need to be spoken but if those words are not spoken in love, they are not His (as we are told in 1 Corinthians). And if you are preaching from a bitter place I would ask you to get out of the pulpit- whether it be found in a place of worship or your dining room table or Facebook or all the other places we gather- you are not furthering what we have been invited to share. We need not understand what others do in order to share the good news in love.
Through the power of the blood of Christ and the gospel that was delivered through it we have been invited and commanded to move towards those that we do not understand; to lean in, to ask questions, to gain relationship, to share love and then speak truth as the Spirit moves. Our good ideas are simply not needed as often as we think, our opinions and advice hold little to no weight outside of His arms and the invitation for redemption. As holders of the light of the gospel, we must fling our doors wider open still, fill our tables with those that need a place to sit, to be family, to feel loved. Open your blinds, talk to your neighbors, the checker at the grocery, the grumpy man who walks down your street with a stick, the kid who shows up at your door unannounced; take notice of those He puts in your path, the path to fix this ugly and shameful mess is found here. And then friends, as you hear of the hearts and stories held in the misunderstood, you may see that you were the one that doesn’t make sense to the least of those. We easily become those Jesus people who talk the talk but aren’t willing to move across the street to bring light and love. We easily become those holy people who “don’t do” certain things or fraternize with certain people.
These are the problems of our day and weren’t they, surprisingly, the problems of our grandparents day? I don’t want this to be the problem of my children’s day but if it is: I want them to know they need not be afraid. That they too can open their doors. That they themselves have no need to hide, rather they can make their hearts known and their arms available. That their home too, could be a sanctuary that provides rest and a honest space to exist in. A space that shares love and speaks of the hope we have been promised. A place that I believe will be filled with color, in all shapes, forms and fashions. A place that knows Jesus and the grace and mercy He bestowed upon the likes of all humanity to welcome them into that promised place; a restored Eden. Because this picture of home, friends, is what it looks like to be the church. We will stumble and fall but we will not be without rescue. We will mess things up but we aren’t without redemption. We will step on toes and create awkward silence but we won’t be without the Spirit that cultivates restoration. Hope is what will remain through it all and love will be the foundation.